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Davids Pipistrel Build Website

Builder:
David Urban
Location:
Ham Lake, MN - USA
Aircraft:
Pipistrel - Virus SW 912iS
Engine:
Rotax - 912iS
Prop:
Woodcomp - VAR 2 - Constant Pitch
Total Build Time:
1007 Hours

I am an Electrical Engineer that has been building model RC planes since I was 12 years old. I have always dreamed of building the real thing and now I can finally afford the time and $$ to build a full size airplane. I have attended Oshkosh off and on since I was 15 and I would always leave with a new kit in mind that I was going to build when I could afford it. On my 2013 trip to Oshkosh, I found the Pipistrel Virus SW (http://www.pipistrel-usa.com/models/virus-sw.html) and that replaced the Arion Lightning as the new kit I was going to build.
Why I chose the Pipistrel Virus:

I had 3 main criteria when choosing a kit:

1. I wanted a composite airplane because of the smoother curves, lower drag and high fuel efficiency.
2. I wanted a electronically controlled fuel injected engine. I did not care for the difficulty of starting the mechanically injected engine in my dad's Mooney and the constant attention you have to give it while in flight.
3. I wanted a fast build kit. This is claimed to be a 200-400 hour kit. I am getting up in years and I want to fly and get my IFR ticket before I loose my medical.

The Pipistrel was the only kit that I could find which fit all these criteria and stayed in my budget (after the Euro fell). I would have liked to get close to 200 mph but I had to compromise a little on speed (170mph). I originally thought the Arion Lightning with a UL engine fit this criteria but after a little digging I found out that the UL engine was not (in my opinion) an IFR worthy electronically controlled fuel injected engine. Unlike the Rotax 912iS, the UL has one injector for each cylinder and a cold standby backup engine controller. This means that when the engine dies, you switch the second controller (with all duplicate sensors) online (with a multiple switches on your instrument panel all mechanically tied together) and re-start your engine. The fuel pump is a similar setup. Only one fuel pump can run at a time and when it fails, you switch in the backup. The Rotax has dual injectors, dual controllers, that are constantly being monitored and when one fails, it automatically switches over to the hot standby. Rotax has thoroughly tested with every conceivable signal point failure (I know, its always the end case failures you don't think of that get you) and it flawlessly keeps running. It also has a true dual fuel pump which both can run at takeoff and landing so a failure won't kill your engine at this critical stage of flight.
The next thing that impressed me about the Pipistrel was the quality and completeness of the kit and the number of assemblies that come pre-assembled yet leave enough work so you meet the 51% criteria (It has been certified a 51% kit by the FAA).

I am planning on it taking 1-2 years to build the kit by putting 8-10 hours a week on the project.

Choosing Options:
I originally thought that the only options that were available were the ones listed on the spreadsheet. It wasn't until 3 days before I had to have my final options selected that I found out that there were a lot more options available than indicated on the order spreadsheet and I could pick any off them. Options I selected:

- Airbrakes
- Behringer wheels and brakes (lighter and more effective. Includes parking brake)
- Nose wheel
- Hard backed leather seats (Love these compared to the web type regular seats, makes it much easier to get in and out of luggage compartment, probably don't need luggage door).
- Luggage compartment door
- Lights (I thought this included the strobe on the tail but it does not).
- Parachute
- Extra photoghraph windows on doors and vent in top window
- Door Locks
- Oil thermostat (I think this is standard with Is)
- Autopilot mods and support bracket
- Heated Pitot tube
- Dual Dynon 10" Displays

Additional Options I wished I had ordered:

- Autopilot (to get the remaining mounting hardware and pushrods)
- Window Defroster (The 912iS model doesn't take the airflow from the directly behind the radiator and then blow it up toword the windshield like it does with the standard 912. It uses the air coming in through the nose wheel control arm cutout in the firewall and blows out to the sides by your feet. I am afraid this will not defrost the windows here in MN so I am going to order this kit and install it)

Kit Purchase:
Buying an expensive product from Slovenia and paying for it in Euros was a little nerve racking and we did have some minor hiccups due to communication problems. I sent my down payment using Pipistrel's recommended exchange company (Custom House) and Pipstrel sent me an mail a few days later stating they had received my payment and had a projected delivery date. After receiving the projected delivery date, I was expecting to receive a build start date by which I would have to have all my options finalized. I got busy with other things and didn't notice that a little over a month had gone by when I got an email from Pipistrel asking to start my kit in 3 days, could I make the 2nd payment and have my options finalized by then. This put me in a scramble to finalize my options and get a final quote on the price. Because of the time frame, I again used the Pipistrel recommended exchange company (Custom House) for exchanging dollars to euros. I wired my payment to Custom House and then Custom House forwarded the Euros to Pipistrel. Again, all went well with the exchange but when I checked the fee from Custom House, I calculated it to be approx. 2% (the Euro exchange rate is constantly changing so it can be hard to pin down the exact rate). I thought this was kind of high for the large sum of money I was sending so I started checking around and found a few websites as well as my bank that could give me a better rate. My bank had the best rate because I was a customer they would only charge me $25 flat fee and give me the bank exchange rate. Knowing this, I sent Pipistrel an email asking to make my final payment a little early so I could take advantage of the current low exchange rate and so that I would have time to use to use my own bank for the dollars to euros exchange. I asked Micheal (the Pipistrel USA Sales Manager)for the Pipistrel account information so I could wire the euros straight from my bank to Pipistrel and bypass Custom House. A week later I got an email from Micheal with the final installment sum and an account in Slovenia to send the money. Micheal asked me to check with Custom House again so they could have a chance to compete. Micheal said Custom House should be .2% above the bank exchange rate. I got the quote from Custom House and found it was about 1.24% over the current rate but the rate had been climbing constantly from the time Micheal asked them for the quote until I received it. The quote was well above the .2% and again close to the 2% they charged me last time. I said no thank you to Custom House and immediately sent my payment directly to Pipistrel using the account sent by Micheal. My bank said it would take three days for the wire to get to the bank in Slovenia but they could not guarantee how long it take for the Slovenia bank to process the wire. It could be an additional 7 days. I sent an email to Micheal stating that I had sent my payment to the account specified and copied that account information and that payment should reach his bank in three days and to please let me know when he received it. A week went by and I didn't hear anything, but wasn't too worried because my bank said it could take at least a week. Then almost 2 weeks went by and I started to get nervous. I sent an email to Micheal explaining that it has been two weeks,has he received my money? He replied that he had not received my payment so now I was in full panic mode. I had just sent a large sum of money to a foreign bank with no known recourse if is lost or deposited in the wrong account. Micheal asked me to send my payment info to him and by now my bank had sent me the paper copy of the wire transfer so I scanned it in and sent it to him. On that paper copy, it said that the funds would not be release for two weeks after the request was made. Micheal replied that I had sent it to Pipistrel account instead of the Custom House account and he was wondering why I didn't make the payment the same way as I did the previous two payments. And why the funds would not be released for two weeks. He also said that he does not have access to the Pipistrel account and has to get someone a Pipestrel in Slovenia to check it. I contacted my bank and asked them about the two week release date. They said the Federal Government requires them to put the two week date on the paperwork because it COULD take that long but the money did indeed arrived in 3 days. Huh? Leave it to the government regulations to mess up communication. Making a long story a little shorter, the money did arrive at Pipistrel in three days but Micheal didn't know about it because he was expecting it in a different account (communication problem). I would like to recommend to Pipistrel that they create a secure web account at a bank that the buyer can transfer money into and both the buyer and Pipistrel can see when it arrives. That takes the human element out of the loop and also is more secure than sending a bunch of emails back and forth with account information in them. I would also recommend that Pipistrel watch a Custom House a little closer if they are indeed only supposed to be charging Pipistrel customers .2% over the bank exchange rate.

Shipping:
Sending a large shipping container overseas is not like sending a Fedex package. Pipistrel has to deal with multiple vendors each with their own time line. Trucking to the ship yard, shipping overseas, Train from the oversea shipper to Customs, then Trucking again from customs to the final destination. This can be a 1-2 month process and the whole time with no tracking of the shipping container so nobody at Pipistrel really knows were it is during this time and sometimes the shippers don't even know where it is. This can be frustrating because it causes a lot of shifting arrival dates for us impatient customers waiting for their baby to arrive. Sharing the shipping costs with someone was nice cutting the roughly $5,000 shipping bill roughly in half.

As you can see from the pictures, my kit was delivered with a Pipistrel Alpha Trainer (shared the shipping cost). I had to build a set of ramps to get the Alpha off the truck. The ramps also worked great to walk down when unloading my kit and it worked extremely well sliding the 160lb engine container down the ramps (no lifting needed). We then used a small 4 wheel dolly to roll the engine into the hanger.


Recent Activity
 Date Hours Work Log Summary Details
 10-05-2019
3.0
Added Defoster Fan Breaker To Electrical Panel
Details
     

 09-16-2019
8.0
Installed Aluminum Ground Plane
Details
     

 09-08-2019
1.0
Added Stickers To Various Controls And Installed F
Details

 09-01-2019
2.0
Scraped Excess Silicon Rubber From Windshield/fuse
Details
       

 08-31-2019
4.0
Installed Windshield
Details
     

 08-18-2019
2.0
Wired Circuit Board On Ray Allen Control Sticks
Details
     

 08-17-2019
0.5
Started Engine And Ran Util Oil Temp Reached 215 D

 08-14-2019
5.0
Routed And Connected ELT Harness
Details

 08-13-2019
4.0
Manufactured ELT Cable Harness
     

 08-13-2019
3.0
Epoxied Carbon Fibre To ELT Tray
Details
     










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